motion732, its a little off the beaten path but you can go up to Arenal. There's a nice little hotel and they also have natural hot waterfalls and pools. Pretty cool. You can also check out the volcano.
As for Jaco, its a nasty Ghetto!!! The water is even worse! I would drink out of my toilet before surfing Jaco. Jaco is also dangerous...a good friend of mine was shot and killed there. All because some Columbian thought he was checking out his girl. Two months previous to this happening my friend who got shot had his brother killed in a car accident about 30 minutes north of Jaco.
There's so many nice places to go down there. Why bother with Jaco....the waves aren't even good there. If you're deadset on going to that area go stay out in Hermosa. There's plenty of places out there to stay. Quepos and Manuel Antonio are really nice too. Its about 30 minutes or so south of Hermosa and Jaco.
Costa is definitely not what it used to be! However you can still find a good wave and some fairly uncrowded places to stay still.
If you're concerned about costs, go 2 weeks after Easter. Catch a cab to playa hermosa, Jaco, and stay at the Cabinas Vista Hermosa (or camp). killer break out front, bar next door, plenty of good breaks within walking or hitch hiking distance. go alone if you have to.
!00% right!!!! couldn't have said it better myself. ive made the trip to Hermosa plenty of times alone, and its so worth it. you'll meet people when you travel alone. I made a lot of close friends in costa rica by going alone. Book your ticket!!!
the best times I've had was when I traveled alone. I liked it a little better when the wifey came because of the temptress' there. In 01 we quit our jobs to move. I went a month earlier cause the wife had stock option that needed a little more time to mature. I stayed in desolate areas, camping. Was in Mata Palo, not seeing any one for days. I walked around the point and there were 3 nekkid Ticas frolicking in a tidal pool. I excused my self and started to run away. "Ven! Ven!" I said I couldn't. they asked why. Estoy casado. they didn't care. I said the wife was a bruja and would put the juju on both of us. that seemed like a good excuse to them.
she did tell me I could get a Beejay but I had to pay for it. Shee it, those are free. just wave a sammich in front of them.